A taxi cab, in which the rear window handles have been removed, drives in front of Tiananmen Sunday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Passengers in some of Beijing's taxis have discovered they can no longer open the rear windows as the handles have been disabled, allegedly a measure to improve traffic management and stability.
A number of Web users have posted on Sina microblogs that they have ridden in Beijing taxis in which the window could not be opened by passengers seated in the rear.
A taxi driver from Xinyue Lianhe taxi company, surnamed Wang, confirmed to the Global Times Sunday that he was informed of the regulation at his company's monthly meeting on October 13.
The notice was issued by the Transportation Administration of Beijing under the Municipal Commission of Transport, he said.
The administration could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Since the October 1 National Day holidays, some taxi passengers have been found handing out leaflets with adverse information, said Wang.
"The company management said at the meeting that in the past, some passengers had thrown leaflets out of the taxi window, or inserted leaflets into ping-pong balls and threw them out, or would let go of a balloon which had leaflets tied to it," he said.
This is the first time in his six-year driving career that he was asked to disable the rear window handles, but he has yet to carry out the instruction, as he thinks it is unfair for those who do not have bad intentions, said Wang.
The regulation did not mention cabs with electric windows, said Wang.
"When drivers asked about electric windows, the company said it was up to the drivers if they wanted to lock them or not," he said.
Some taxi passengers are not in favor of the measure.
"I wouldn't take a taxi without a rear window handle," said Song Shan, 25, from Chaoyang district.
"I have car sickness and always ask the driver to open the window even in winter," she said, adding that she also thought it was unsafe, as the window could not be opened in an emergency.
A Sina microblogger named Fu Qiang-Edward posted a picture of a taxi he took on Friday night that did not have a rear window handle.
He wrote that the cab driver told him they had received an urgent notice to remove the handle, "because a taxi passenger threw leaflets with adverse information from a cab window yesterday [Thursday]."
But many cab drivers do not seem to have heeded the instruction.
Over the course of two hours, a Global Times reporter found that only two of about 20 taxis seen at Beijing Railway Station, Dongdan and Xidan, all in central Beijing, had disabled the handle.
One taxi driver parked in Wangfujing, who would not give his name, said the rear window handles on his cab were removed a few days ago.
"They should be installed again but I don't know the exact date," he said.
A Web user named Diyishijian, who forwarded the "handle removal" message in an online forum Saturday, also wrote in the post that police officers are keeping buses which run along Chang'an Avenue under surveillance.
A police officer from the publicity department with the public transportation law enforcement office, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that it is common for police officers to be stationed on buses which ply along Chang'an Avenue.
The number of officers is increased or decreased according to the passenger flow volume or if there are any security concerns, she said.
"Police officers on the buses, either in plainclothes or uniformed, help maintain order and security," she said, refusing to elaborate.
There will be new traffic management and control measures in the capital from November 1 to 18, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.
During this period, vehicles carrying highly toxic chemicals will be banned from the city's administrative areas, and the period of validity of the temporary passes for passenger and freight vehicles coming from other provinces will be reduced from seven to three days, said the report.